Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

FluidKnowledge – How evaluation shapes ocean science. A multi-scale ethnography of fluid knowledge

FluidKnowledge will investigate the past, present and future of evaluating ocean science. Regarding the past, it will ask how research priorities in ocean science evolved until now. Which lines of inquiry became hot topics, and which died out? Who became global players, who ended up in the periphery? Who published on what, in which interdisciplinary collaborations?

2019 - 2024
Sarah de Rijcke

Regarding the present, FLuidKnowledge will analyze what currently matters in ocean science by studying the knowledge cultures in different European marine institutes. This is where research evaluation and the daily practice of research come together. The team will study ethnographically how ocean scientists do their work: in labs, on ships, during team meetings, and in supervisory meetings.

Regarding the future, FluidKnowledge will look at priority setting in science policy. The researchers will study how expectations about the role of ocean science are formulated in European policies. Which values and priorities will ocean science be held accountable to? How do policy makers and ocean scientists work together? How and when does this fail?


The working paper titled “Structural Analysis of Major trends in the Epistemological and Institutional History of Ocean Science” published in October 2021 explores the development of research agendas in European and global ocean science between 1980-2020 using Web of Science data. Our analyses illustrate the epistemic vastness of ocean science, which encompasses scholarship from all major scientific disciplines. We provide interactive visualisations of the scientometric landscape of ocean science to enable interested stakeholders (including scientists, policy makers, industry and NGO representatives and the general public) to explore developments in specific areas of ocean science, distinct national foci in European ocean science, and the changing publication activity of the most prominent journals and institutions over time.

The team also produces the FluidKnowledge podcast, a series of in-depth discussions around ocean science. In the first season, Sarah speaks with leaders in the field about conducting ocean research in turbulent times while tackling science governance, grand challenges, and everything in between. You can find the podcast at https://www.fluid-knowledge.com/podcast or follow us on twitter (@OceansERC) to hear the latest updates.




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